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The Tool was developed through a profession-led collaboration of school principals and the Australian Council for Educational Research, facilitated by the Western Australian Department of Education. The Tool describes the work and practices of highly effective principals based on lived school leadership experiences, combined with evidence from an accompanying review of international research findings.

In a nutshell, schools led by highly effective principals are especially successful in identifying and meeting the needs of all students. In these schools the principal leads a school-wide commitment to a single, deep-seated moral purpose: to see every student learning successfully and working toward their potential. The principal regards this as the core mission of the school and this commitment drives and guides all aspects of their work.

In practice, highly effective principals lead this agenda by:

  • articulating and achieving widespread commitment to the school’s moral purpose;
  • creating a cohesive school culture built on strong, purposeful relationships;
  • applying the school’s available resources in ways that maximise outcomes for students;
  • building teachers’ commitment and capacity to make improvements in teaching practices;
  • ensuring that decisions are informed by, and evaluated in terms of, quality data; and
  • leading the collaborative implementation and systematic study of strategic change

Importantly, the Principal Performance Improvement Tool is developmental; for each of these aspects of a principal’s work, the Tool describes four levels of increasingly effective practice. These levels can be used in self-reflections and to identify specific areas for further attention and development. The Tool also should be useful to other school leaders aspiring to take on the role of principal.

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